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Poster: Mr. Date: Jun 10, 2005 2:00am
Forum: movies Subject: Does anyone know this about the Calvin Workshop?

I was wondering if anybody realizes that the Calvin Workshop, creators of "Your Name Here" and other classic industrial film spoofs, was just an annual get-together of industrial filmmakers in Kansas City to help improve and orient their industrial filmmaking techniques. The real company behind this is the Calvin Company, who were headquartered in Kansas City and during the '50s were the largest industrial film producer in the world, with their list of clients including Du Pont, Goodyear, Caterpillar, and General Mills. They also manufactured projectors and other equipment, and boasted an excellent processing laboratory, and pioneered the use of 16mm and 8mm film, and new Kodak processing methods. In the early '50s, one of Calvin's 200-person staff was a young director named Robert Altman just getting his start. He would later direct such films as "M*A*S*H" and "Nashville." The Calvin film "The Magic Bond" (in this archive) was directed by him in Kansas City. In fact, Altman's first feature film, "The Delinquents," was an independent film made in Kansas City while he was still working for Calvin, and most of the cast and crew were made up of his Calvin co-workers (because he didn't have many other sources to draw from).

Anyway, I wish Rick Prelinger had more Calvin films in the archive. Calvin also did educational films, and produced a series of them in the late '50s in conjuction with the University of Kansas City and this was the first time a series of classroom films had been produced that way, ever. Calvin by the early '70s, however, could not compete with the new kid on the block---videotape---and they closed up shop in the early '80s.

Just wondering if anyone knew about all of this, and I'm just dropping this information by you fans who wanted to know more about the Calvin Workshop.

Sincerely yours,
Mr.

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Poster: Crackerboxer Date: Jun 10, 2005 5:03am
Forum: movies Subject: Re: Does anyone know this about the Calvin Workshop?

Great. Thanks. I was wondering what the deal was with them!

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Poster: Rick Prelinger Date: Jun 11, 2005 5:51am
Forum: movies Subject: Re: Does anyone know this about the Calvin Workshop?

In 1984, Calvin gave its vast library of film elements to Prelinger Archives. This included both master and preprint elements on their own productions and unclaimed materials from their lab. The collection is now at the Library of Congress. The "'Your Name Here' Story" outtakes on this site come from that collection.

You can see a glimpse of the original Calvin studios (ca. 1938) in the film "Bicycling With Complete Safety."

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Poster: Mr. Date: Jun 11, 2005 8:22am
Forum: movies Subject: Re: Does anyone know this about the Calvin Workshop?

These are the Calvin films that I've heard about but have not seen that I'd really like to see on this archive someday:

"The Sound of Bells" -- This early 1950s sales film sponsored by B.F. Goodrich was directed by Robert Altman and I hear that the story concerns a gas station owner who gets a surprise visit from Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Santa promises the station owner a new customer every day of the coming new year, and these Santa-sent customers will be known to him by "the sound of bells."

"The Dirty Look" -- This is another early '50s Calvin film that I know almost nothing about except for the fact that it was sponsored by Gulf Oil and featured Hollywood star William Frawley turning in a guest apperance as a prattling barber. Sounds interesting.

"The Perfect Crime" (1955) and "The Last Mile" (1953) -- Two virtually identical Calvin films sponsored by Caterpillar and the National Safety Council, they both won safety and industrial film awards as well. They are mostly about highway safety and terrible car accidents, and then the sales pitch comes in: "With better roads built by sturdy Caterpillar equipment, this roadway misfortune can be avoided."

I wonder if these films are in the Library of Congress right now. I wonder if Rick Prelinger knows.

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Poster: Rick Prelinger Date: Jun 11, 2005 3:13pm
Forum: movies Subject: Re: Does anyone know this about the Calvin Workshop?

We had the original A&B rolls and track on "Sound of Bells," now at the Library of Congress. I'll check on the others. Pat McGilligan screened "Bells" in some fashion while researching his bio of Altman.

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Poster: Mr. Date: Jun 12, 2005 12:12am
Forum: movies Subject: Re: Does anyone know this about the Calvin Workshop?

How accessible are these films? Can people view them at the library?